Nothing doing on county administrator


By David Avitabile

The push to hire an executive or administrator to run the day-to-day affairs of Schoharie County is losing steam.
County Supervisors agreed in November to study the issue and in January, new board Chairman Harold Vroman referred the matter to the rules and legislation committee.
Most of the members of that committee, as well as Mr. Vroman, have spoken out against hiring an administrator.
Conesville Supervisor Mike Brandow, the head of the rules committee, said the committee was supposed to discuss the issue last month but there was no meeting.
The committee is to meet on Tuesday, May 17 and the issue is expected to be discussed and a recommendation will be made to the full board, he said.
There is not a lot of support for a county administrator among the members of the committee.
Mr. Brandow said the position is not needed and will waste money.
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” he said.
“It will be more money for somebody to do the same thing the Board of Supervisors and the chairman do.”
A part-time administrator, he said, would cost the county between $25,000 and $30,000 a year while a full-time person would cost $50,000 or more.
“I think that’s a waste of money, but that’s my own opinion.”
He said he was not sure about the opinions of the other supervisors “but there’s not a lot of excitement for it.”
Mr. Vroman said he is open to suggestions but said the system the county currently has works well.
“The committee system has worked here in the county,” he said. “I don’t think the county’s broken. You have to maintain it, just fix it if you have to.”
Committee member Dennis Richards of Middleburgh said he is willing to talk about the issue but has to be convinced there is a benefit.
“I have an open mind on this issue,” he said Monday.
“Until someone can show how it would benefit the county financially, I am reluctant to commit county dollars. When I looked at the numbers of adding the position plus adding staff for support of the position, it doesn’t make economic sense.
“More layers of government does not make government more efficient or responsive to the taxpayers.”
Sandra Manko of Sharon, another committee member, said she initially thought a county administrator might be a good idea but the more she studied it and looked into it, she found that “the system we have is better.”
She added, “It’s the supervisors who are making the decisions. With an executive we’d be out of touch. We’d lose some identity of the towns we represent.”
She said it was good she looked into it because “sometimes you don’t realize the system you have is working well.”
Committee member Dan Singletary of Jefferson has spoken out against the change.
“I’m certainly not in favor of it,” he said.
“We would lose too much.”
Under the current system, he said, the smaller towns have an effective voice in county government, he said.
“I don’t see how an administrator would be effective for us. I don’t see it.”
The discussion has been good, though, he said.
If there is no central administrator, the supervisors have to become the administrators, he said.
“We must be the administrators at the county level.
“The effort has sharpened our skills.”
Some of the supervisors noted that most local counties do not have administrators or executives and Montgomery County had an administrator and switched back.
One person who has said that an administrator or executor would be good for Schoharie County is Wayne Stinson, a member of Schoharie Citizens for Professional Governance.
Having two department heads as budget officers is one reason the county needs an executive.
“It’s wrong. It’s not the way it should be.”
The county board has handled the issue poorly and has not given it the proper study.
A representative of the Association of Counties spoke to the county board in February about having a county administrator but few questions were asked by supervisors, Mr. Stinson said.
“The thing was handled poorly,” he said.
“They’re not doing anything,” he said of the supervisors. “They want it to go away.”
Mr. Vroman, he added, “has no intention of pushing it forward.”
Mr. Vroman, he said, should not be against it because of a potential loss of income. The added responsibility of being the chairman of the board deserves extra income.
“The board still needs a leader,” he said.
The issue of adding an administrator is worthy of investigation and even if the issue dies this time, it will come up again, Mr. Stinson said.
“If it doesn’t happen now, it will come up again.
“It’s got to be the Board of Supervisors realizing they can do something better. I can’t make it happen…
“The issue’s not dead. Even if I’m not talking about it, someone else will. The need is still there.”